One thing I know about Parker… don’t ever double-cross his ass. Richard Stark, the darker side of Donald E. Westlake, made that considerably clear with each and every Parker novel. I gotta wonder if he would have approved of Jason Statham taking on the role of the outlaw anti-hero.
Reading through the series is like an epic journey through the dirtiest gutters of noir. This is a guy who, from the outset, is determined not to hurt people who don’t deserve it, not to steal from the poor, and not to renege on a promise. As Statham keeps saying in the movie, Parker, “It’s not about the money. It’s the principle.” In other words, everybody gets what they deserve. And if they don’t… he’ll make sure they do.
Stark made it interesting from the get-go. In his first book, Parker has had some problems with the Outfit and makes some changes to his appearance. He gets plastic surgery on his face, and is unrecognizable to those who knew him. Kinda like Donald E. Westlake writing under Stark. This is where he could go from writing dark gritty crime to writing really dark gritty crime.
I like the way Anthony Boucher put it in the New York Times. “Richard Stark writes a harsh and frightening story of criminal warfare and vengeance with economy, understatement and a deadly amoral objectivity…”
Yet somehow you’re on his side, looking for the perfect score and when you can’t get what you came for — you can at least get even.
I feel that the movie fell well short of that. Not that I didn’t enjoy it… Statham certainly pulls off “amoral” pretty much every time he looks at the camera. But you’re better off investing in your library that your movie collection. If you’ve got the time… Stark’s got the books.
There’s 24 of these fuckers.